Call for building inspection at ‘nightmare’ Orchard Village estate, Rainham

Residents at Orchard Village have signed a petition to bring back Old Ford Housing under Havering Co

Residents at Orchard Village have signed a petition to bring back Old Ford Housing under Havering Council control - Credit: Archant

Complaints over “substandard” levels of work at a three-year-old estate have led to calls for checks by an independent inspector.

Residents at Orchard Village, Rainham, organised a meeting with their councillors on Monday to highlight a host of complaints, which they say have not been addressed by Circle Housing Association.

This comes as Circle, one of the largest housing providers in the UK, is negotiating to merge with Affinity Sutton, to create one giant housing association.

Circle, which was downgraded by the housing regulator last year, also secured a deal earlier this month to build 500 homes within the Rainham and Beam Park development, which will see the construction of 3,500 new homes.

The Recorder has reported on many issues at Orchard Village including vermin, leaks, damp, and falling metal poles following a £108 million project to revamp the infamous Mardyke estate.

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David Davenport, 23, who moved with his wife and four children in Barley Court in August, woke up to a mice in his bed. He said having killed seven in his flat in two days.

“It’s a nightmare. We don’t want to live here,” he said.

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Residents have signed a petition demanding for Old Ford Circle Housing, the subsidiary association managing the site, to be brought back under Havering Council control.

The petition states the service “will get worse not better if centralised” and Old Ford Housing Association should be a “community-based” housing provider.

Cllr Graham Williamson told the Recorder “an avalanche” of problems was raised at the meeting.

“It looks as if the building has been built of sub standards level,” he said and questioned “if Circle Housing is an appropriate partner for the London Borough of Havering”.

“It’s just total incompetence,” he said, adding he would call for an independent inspector to check the quality of the build.

Director at Circle Housing Mike Ward said he was aware of some outstanding issues at Orchard Village and was working with building contractor Wilmot Dixon to resolve them as quickly as possible.

“I visited residents at Orchard Village personally on Monday and the vast majority are very satisfied with their new homes and the regeneration,” he added.

A Circle spokeswoman added a specialist vermin team visited the affected homes and “their initial view is that the issue is related to field mice due to the homes being close to Beam Valley Country Park and the Beam River”.

Work to solve the issue is on-going.

Resident Colin Nickless, 40, Broadis Way, said: “The housing association’s relationship with the residents is completely broken.

“There will be more accountability if Old Ford is back under local authority control.”

Orchard Village was transferred to Circle back in 2008 following a resident ballot involving three housing associations.

But property services manager at Havering Council Kevin Hazlewood said it was not legally possible to reverse this process and responsibility will continue to lie with Circle.

The petition will still be presented to councillors on Saturday ahead of a meeting with the chief executive of Circle and the council’s housing director on Monday.

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